100 Greatest Phillies: 39 – Mike Lieberthal

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, February 16, 2009 07:48 PM | Comments: 46
100 Greatest Phillies, Posts

Mike Lieberthal

Career w/Phillies: .274 AVG / 149 HR / 609 RBI / 8 SB

The Phillies all-time leader in catching, Mike Lieberthal was a mainstay for the franchise in the final years of Veterans Stadium. A two-time All-Star and once Gold Glove winner, Lieby had a few very good seasons behind the plate, displaying equal parts power and contact while supplying sufficient defense. His most powerful season came in 1999, when he hit 31 home runs, drove in 96 and hit .300 en route to an All-Star berth. Then he hit .313 for the 2003 Phillies, showcasing a fine eye during that campaign. Most of his seasons were plagued by injury, as he suffered numerous bouts with his knee, but he still finished as the franchise’s all time catching leader in home runs, runs batted in and games played.

Comment: Most of us younger fans can divide our Phillie-following days into two distinct eras: The Daulton era and the Lieberthal era. Lieby caught some bad teams, but he had a little success toward the end of his Phillie career. He remains one of the franchise’s greatest backstops, and to me, deserved a spot in the top 40, just like Daulton and the third great Phillie catcher, Bob Boone.

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About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1948 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Jim

    I love it. One of my favorite contemporary phillies. He was booed so much by this town when he was hitting like 260 and 270 and even into 280 becuase people expected more from him when he still was in the top 3 each year for batting average for catchers.

  • Posts: 0 mde77

    Really apparent that a 24 year old put thi list together. I guess Daulton, Dykstra and Kruk will be top ten.

  • Posts: 0 Jh

    makes me happy to see Lieberthal in the top 40, he was a important part of my favorite 2003 club, but the real question is where is Brandon DUckworth, lol

  • Posts: 0 Tools of Ignorance

    Haha, this is great. He was one of my favorite players on the Phils during those years. I still have and wear his jersey to the ballpark.

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    Oh man, you’re right mde77. You are SOOO right. I actually have Ricky Otero listed at No. 9 and Wes Chamberlain at No. 2.

    FYI, the top 10 has ONE player who started his Phillie career when I was alive.

    So get a clue.

  • Posts: 0 Jason B.

    I think the most impressive stat listed for Lieby is the 8 stolen bases… man could hustle!

  • Posts: 0 Jim

    My guess is that one phillie player who started your phillie career when you were alive, tim, is none other than Curt Schilling. It just has to be

  • Posts: 0 KM

    Number 7 is Omar Daal.

  • Posts: 0 Kev

    Robert Person, he hit a grand slam

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    Actually, if this guy and others who criticized me are right, I’m going with Billy McMillon. Guy hit a grand slam at a game I saw live.

  • Posts: 0 KM

    All jokes aside, Lieberthal is a solid choice for the list. Personally, I could probably think of guys more deserving of a top 40 spot, but he wouldn’t be much further down the list.

  • Posts: 0 nate

    Dude.. was at the game where robert person hit a grand slam. He hit another home run that game and came close to hitting a third, but it went foul.

  • Posts: 0 nate

    there it is…. june 7th, 2002 vs. montreal… http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PHI/PHI200206020.shtml . the sad thing is i think i was up getting food during one of the HRs.

  • Posts: 0 chris

    dudes legs were terrible and the pitching staff hated him. I don’t care if he’s on the list but his last few years were a nightmare and it never felt like we could win with him.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    To get that kind of stability and production at the catcher position was incredible, I know Lieberthal had knocks on him but so did Piazza and if one o our guys gives the kind of tenure Lieberthal gave then we’ll be very lucky.

  • Posts: 0 Your Mom

    Is it realy any surprise that youfrontrunners booed him? Whether he deserved it or not is irrelevant. You’re the same frontrunners who all declared the season over in August only to jump back on the bandwagon again when your frontrunning fancies were tickled. Too bad the Phillies have to play in Philadelphia. They’re a good team that deserves a good city and good fans but they get the nation’s sphincter instead.

  • Posts: 0 Jason B.

    My favorite moment from Lieby was when a batter charged, I think it was Randy Wolf, Lieby came from behind and tackled the batter that charged the mound. I remember thinking, WOW, he could’ve played football too.

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    Lieby def had some good years specially the late 90s early 2000s, didn’t he win a gold glove at least once? Ricky Otero is a solid selection for the top 5 come on best CF ever! While we’re at it why don’t we throw Tony Baron in the mix, he had that one amazing play in RF where he ate the turf at the Vet going after a ball and was on the ESPN highlight reel for the rest of the year.

  • Posts: 0 Greg V.

    Lieberthal I would not rank above Cole Hamels.

    He was pretty good when the team itself was terrible. He was mediocre when the team started to contend. But I give Lieby credit for he really supported the Phils, even after his time with the team ended. Wolf talked about him going to the locker room to watch the team in ’07 while on the Dodgers and I even believe he attended the World Series games.

  • Posts: 0 Tyler

    being only 16, i grew up watchin lieby, and I gotta say, I like this pick tim. Although I think hamels would be more deserving in a year or two, i think lieby’s tenure has to influence this decision. Lieby was and still is one of my favorite phillies

  • Posts: 0 Jason B.

    Speaking of sphincters, I got to know your mothers really well. It tells me to tell you it says hi and really misses you. I thought that was odd that you know your own mothers sphincter, but hey I don’t judge. You idiot.

  • Posts: 0 Greg V.

    Tyler: “More deserving in a year or two”? Is winning four games in the playoffs and becoming World Series MVP not deserving enough? Lieberthal has tenure but he never did anything amazing which is kind of why I’m puzzled that he beats Hamels. I mean Hamels could flat out suck the rest of his career but there is still no erasing what he did in the play offs.

  • Posts: 0 PhilsFans=Clueless

    It should read in his steriod season of 1999 Mike hit 31 homeruns…

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Wonder if he got those roids from the Mets clubhouse guys??

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    12 years as a Phillies backstop… by the numbers, he’s arguably the greatest catcher in franchise history. A terrific offensive catcher (by position standards) and certainly above average defensively, Lieby is a shoe-in for the top 50. The best catcher in franchise history… how can he not fall in the top 50?

  • Posts: 0 Joel V

    I would be REALLY surprised if Daulton was in the top ten. He had 2 great seasons and several mediocre seasons at the plate. Not good enough to warrant top ten consideration in my opinion. Frankly Mike Lieberthal was better offensively! Dutch was a guy that we loved and thought he was better than he really was.

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    Dutch: .245 BA, 137 HRs, 588 RBIs, 50 SBs, .357 OBP, .427 Slugging %
    Lieby: .274 BA, 150 HRs, 610 RBIs, 8 SBs, .337 OBP, 446 Slugging %

    Joel you are very correct my friend, Lieby was definitely better, and very much agree that Dutch was a overrated but then again you can’t outweigh the aspect that he can talk to lizards AND TIMETRAVELS!

  • Posts: 0 Brooks

    Joel, I do not remember all of Tim’s selection criteria but I would imagine the intagibles that the player added to their teams has to rank high, along with the stats.
    Dutch was an integral part of that gang in 93′. Admirable stats and a scary-ness about him that made him a loveable leader – a tough guy, a ladies man who turned out to be cooky after all!
    Daulton had the priveledge of playing on 2 WS, the last being the improbable 97 Marlins as they met and defeated the favored Cleveland Indians. That team had Ramirez, Thome & Matt Williams (all with over 100 rbi), Visquel, and Sandy Alomar jr who had his best year. This team could hit the ball. They also had unfortunately, Jose Table who blew the save for the Tribe in the bottom of the 9th. Dutch called quits after that one.

  • Posts: 0 John Musselboro

    “Most of we” ?!!?

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    I may have missed Tim’s criteria for his choices in his “greatest Phillies” list. Is it a combination of team tenure, stats, intangibles, awards, his era? It’s mind boggling to see that Lieberthal and 52 other players are in Tim’s opinion have made greater contributions than Pete Rose! How many players on Tim’s list have helped the Phillies get to the World Series twice (1980, 1983)? How many players have been named an “All Star” every single year with the team (four)? How many players on the list can be singled out for inspired leadership in the clubhouse and on the field?

    Oh well, as they say, everyone is entitled to their opinion including yours truly. :-)

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    John: I originally wrote “We younger fans,” then added “Most of,” which changed the sentence. I’ll edit that now. Thanks.

  • Posts: 0 Woodman

    Pete was with the Phillies FIVE seasons (1979-1983), not four. I also agree he would be lower than #54 on my list. Certainly he contributed more than Liberthal, but as you said, this is Tim’s list.

  • Posts: 0 Tyler

    greg v., while i see your point, i do think tenure and lieby’s pretty good stats for his position do make him a better candidate. Yes, hamels led us to the WS and won it for us, but it’s one season. Besides this past season, he has been injured frequently, so therefore isn’t always reliable. And as others have stated, everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

  • Posts: 0 metsblow4show

    You guys are debating over who was the Phils best catcher of all time, Dutch or Lieby, well you are both wrong…….Bob Boone !

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

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    First, strike off Pete Rose’s All-Star berths. Ricky Bones made an All-Star team. By that time Rose was earning them off his name.

    Second, Rose was not a great offensive player with the Phillies. Good? OK. His lifetime Phillies OPS+ is right around 100, which actually makes him average. He had two very good seasons (1979, 1981), two slightly below-average seasons (1980, 1982) and one poor season (1983). He had good OBP numbers, but they weren’t consistent over the course of his Phillies career.

    Third, leadership has a small factor in my list. Yes, it’s great Rose came in and helped lead the Phils to the title. Does that make him any more important than, say, Jamie Moyer? Whose leadership also helped the Phils win a title? Heck, Moyer had one great year, one poor year and one mediocre year. Should he be in the top 40?

    (By the way, if those 1980 Phillies, with Schmidt, Carlton, Luzinski, Maddox, Trillo, McBride, Boone, Bowa, McGraw, Reed, Noles and Christenson ALL IN THEIR PRIME couldn’t even make the playoffs, then they should’ve been taken out to the woodshed. Ridiculous that they needed Rose to win.)

    Lieberthal, meanwhile, was an above-average hitting catcher for his Phillies career. His OPS+ numbers indicate he had four average (or very very close to average) seasons offensively. He also had four above-average seasons. Two others were poor – one because he was hurt almost the entire season. Factor in that he’s a catcher and not a first baseman like Rose and Lieby was a better offensive player than Rose for his Phillie career.

    Lieby also was a fine defensive player. And he made it to two All-Star teams (not by name, mind you), so if you want to consider AS teams, consider that.

    And Lieby was something of a leader. And sure, Rose came in and helped to win a title, but really, would you have expected the 1999 Phillies, with a pitching staff that included Paul Byrd, Chad Ogea, Carlton Loewer, a rookie Randy Wolf, Robert Person, Wayne Gomes, Jim Poole, Amaury Telemaco and Yorkis Perez, to actually win something? I mean, Gomes was the closer!

    I stand behind all my picks here. And definitely the Rose pick at No. 54.

    From the Rose thread:

    “In defense of Tim, I think a lot of us see the name Pete Rose and think of his whole career. This is only as a phillie for this countdown though. If you look at his numbers as a phillie, they are not amazing because he didnt play here that long. Take away the name Pete Rose and only look at his numbers and you’ll see where Tim is coming from. For instance, someone like Bobby Abreu isnt anywhere close to Rose as a player but had better numbers as a phillie so will be higher on this list.”

    Agreed. Also read a comment by Phil in that post. He lists about 40 or so players who deserve to be higher than Rose. As you’ll see, most of those players haven’t yet been revealed.

    Pete Rose was great. Absolutely. One of the top 20 baseball players ever. But for his five years with the Phillies he was NOT that great. He was good, yes. He was very good, yes. But great? Greater than the man who caught the most games as a Phillie and leads Phillie catchers in all major offensive stats? NO.

    If you want to cry about Pete Rose further, do it in the Pete Rose thread. But that’s my stance. And I’ll shut up about it from now on.

    /end anger

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    I’m sorry I went on like that, but this Rose talk has been going on ever since I revealed him. I needed to state my case. Let’s continue.

  • Posts: 0 Tim Rich

    My god people, get off your high-horses and enjoy this list for what it is – a labor of love from a fan. This list took tons of time to comprise and tons of effort. Those of you complaining about the list should appreciate the effort instead of trying to tear it down.

    I don’t care where Tim places players on this list, I’m just enjoying the everyday read about great Phillies from the past during a time of year when I can’t watch the Phillies play each and every day.

    Thanks Tim

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    people just like to bitch and complain…

    its definitely cool to look back and see what numbers people put together while they were in a Phillies uniform

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Did I get banned earlier for my shenanigans??

  • Rose is #54? I must have missed that. I was thinking he would be in the top 5…

    Just kidding, Tim. 54 is a fine slot for his Phillie years. And Lieby was a good choice here. He was an all star when the Phils were starving for highlights on ESPN. We suffered some lean times after ’93, the steroid boys. (don’t kid yourself) I believe Lieby was using in ’99 too. I heard that from a reliable source, the Internet.

  • Posts: 0 Greg V.

    Tim, calm down man! You made a list, you should expect people to comment on it! It just seemed weird that Pete Rose was as low as he was! But it’s your opinion which what makes the list fun to debate. Nobody is trashing you for your opinion. It gives us fans something to debate! If Sal Fasano ends up being your number 1 favorite Phillie (just kidding), so be it! I’m sure you would read my list and disagree with a lot! But don’t get all bent out of shape. You write of other players in team history, many don’t know about which makes this a lot of fun and very informative. Chill!

  • Posts: 1650 Tim Malcolm

    Avatar of Tim Malcolm

    Dude I’m chill. I had to give my case, however, cause some people just assume I throw darts on the wall and not actually do research when I do these things.

  • Posts: 0 Jason B.

    Tim, its an awesome list, and your point was well made. To quote another post from that thread, He lost points for the Burgandy Pajamas he was wearing in the picture.

  • Posts: 0 Jason B.

    Mike Lieberthal deserves this spot on this list. Lieby was not what was wrong with the Phillies from 94- 06. In the glow of the W.S., we forget that for almost 2 decades(except for 93), our team was run by inept people. The ownership group refused to spend money and for 8 of those years we had an arrogant bastard taking the reign s at GM. Travis Lee, Marlon Byrd, Jason Michaels, FERNANDO VALENZUELA, Jose Mesa. That was the problem with this franchise. Lieby just happened to be a great catcher on a bad, bad ball club. Find me 7 catchers during Lieby’s tenure with better numbers during that time period.

  • Posts: 0 Kenny

    Lieby is definatly better then Dutch… It should be the other way around on this one. Lieby was always one of my favorites. The man could play!!!

  • Posts: 0 Melvina Devot

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